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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Helping Those With Treatment-Resistant Major Depression

Treating substance use disorders is no easy feat, but with the right help recovery is possible. To complicate issues even more, many people living with addiction are also affected by other mental health disorders, such as anxiety, bipolar disorder, and depression. When this happens, it is referred to as having a co-occurring disorder, which requires both the addiction and the other condition be treated simultaneously if recovery is to be achieved.

Unfortunately, there are a number of people living with depression who do not respond to the medications currently available. If the depression is left untreated, the likelihood of relapse is exceedingly great.

On the other hand, researchers continue to search for new/alternative methods for helping those with treatment-resistant major depression. New research suggests that the use of a medication that combines two drugs that target different opioid receptors resulted in noteworthy symptom improvements, ScienceDaily reports. The new research was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

"We know that more than half of patients with major depression won't respond to the first antidepressant they try, and almost 40 percent will continue to have symptoms even after switching to or adding different drugs," says Maurizio Fava, MD, executive director of the Clinical Trials Network & Institute in the MGH Department of Psychiatry and lead author of the study. "Opioids have actually been used for centuries to treat mood disorders, and while opioid drugs must be used cautiously because of their potential for abuse, studies have shown that levels of the endogenous opioids released by the central nervous system may be reduced in important brain areas of patients with major depression."

It is vital to keep in mind that we are in the midst of a serious opioid epidemic in the United States. While novel approaches must be considered, especially when trying to help those who do not respond to current therapies, the use of addictive narcotics for treating mental health may be a slippery slope.

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